Month: September 2019

  • Bali 9 executions: Funerals begin as Chan, Sukumaran families prepare to fly home

    Executed: Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.’Am I being executed?’ Comment: Why Chan and Sukumaran never stood a chanceMary Jane Veloso still on death rowThe final journey of Bali nine duoAnalysis: Australia may have to ‘ride out’JokoBali nine executions were ‘more perfect’
    Shanghai night field

    As the families of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran make final preparations to bring the bodies of the two men back home, heart-wrenching funerals have been held in Indonesia for two men executed alongside them.

    The bodies of Chan and Sukumaran are being held in a Jakarta mortuary ahead of their scheduled departure for Australia late on Thursday night. They should arrive in Sydney on Friday morning.

    As well as family members, Chan’s wife, Febyanti Herewila, will accompany his body back to its final resting place. The pair were married on the eve of the execution.

    Funeral plans are not yet confirmed for the two Australians, whose brave defiance in the face of a firing squad – they sang hymns and did not wear blindfolds – deeply moved millions of Australians. Zainal protested innocence to the end

    The only Indonesian among the eight executed early on Wednesday morning, Zainal Abidin, was buried later that afternoon in a sorrowful ceremony in Cilacap, the port town across the narrow strait from Nusakambangan, where the eight men were killed.

    Zainal wanted to be buried in his home town of Palembang in South Sumatra but his request was denied by local authorities. It is understood they didn’t want to pay for the transfer of his remains.

    Zainal comes from an impoverished background and the only relative to attend the service was his brother Iwan Setiawan.

    “Everything is over. My brother has been buried. What else can we do? May God forgive all his sins,” Iwan said

    Dozens of local residents attended the funeral, which was led by local cleric Hasan Marakim the Jakarta Post reported.

    “It’s such a pity. I feel very sad. Although, he might not be a bad person, he is already dead. Who knows if God has forgiven his sins?” a local man, Surmani, told the paper.

    “Hopefully, his soul will be peaceful here.”

    In a moving letter drafted in March, the former furniture factory labourer said his “restless soul” would haunt those who perpetrated a massive injustice upon him.

    He always maintained his innocence after 58.7 kilograms of cannabis was found in his home. He said an acquaintance, Aldo, left it there without his knowledge.

    Following his arrest in 2000, his wife left him and he never saw his baby daughter again. In February, his parents’ home burned down.

    In more devastating misfortune, one of his brothers had a heart attack and died in March after hearing from prosecutors in Palembang that the family would have one last chance to see Zainal because the executions were imminent.

    A few days later, Indonesia’s Attorney-General announced a delay in the executions. Tearful farewell to “Uncle Dili”

    Nigerian drug dealer Okwudili Oyatanze was also buried on Wednesday at the Gita Eklesia Foundation’s orphanage in Ambarawa, near the Central Java city of Semarang.

    “Dili”, as he was affectionately known, formed a gospel band with guards at Nusakambangan.

    Arrested with 1.15 kilograms of heroin in his possession, he was completely reformed, a devoted Christian and spent his time in prison helping other inmates.

    Oyatanze was frequently likened to Chan and Sukumaran for his leadership role in prison, and his impact on the lives of other convicts.

    Upon its arrival at the orphanage, his body was greeted by a sign emblazoned “Welcome Home, Uncle Dili”, local media reported.

    Oyatanze was orphaned at seven months and had a harsh upbringing.

    Rina, the owner of the orphanage, told the Jakarta Post she often visited Oyatanze in prison and took children from the centre to meet him.

    “The children here felt close to him. They called him Uncle Dili,” she told the newspaper.

    Nigerian Raheem Agbaje Salami, who formed a deep attachment to his Indonesian girlfriend, Angela, and Ghanaian Martin Anderson, sentenced to death for possessing just 50 grams of heroin, will also be buried in Indonesia.

    Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, who had suffered paranoid schizophrenia since a youth, and Nigerian Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise requested to have their bodies returned home. Ambassador’s final task before recall

    Australia’s ambassador to Jakarta, Paul Grigson, is overseeing the repatriation of the bodies of Chan and Sukumaran. He is expected to return to Australia shortly after that task is complete after being recalled for “consultations” with the federal government.

    An unprecedented diplomatic step, Mr Grigson’s recall reflects the depth of anger within the Australian government at Indonesia’s insistence on executing the two Australians, as well as a series of snubs, including announcing the countdown to the executions on Anzac Day in direct defiance of Australia’s requests.

    Meanwhile, Indonesian lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis –  who fought to save Chan and Sukumaran for years – posted a simple, moving tweet that hinted at the devastation so many supporters feel after their deaths. I still have no word to write. I may need time to find myself.— Todung Mulya Lubis (@TodungLubis) April 30, 2015

  • Nepal earthquake: ‘The avalanche just roared over the top of us’

    Ron Nissen survived the avalanche at Everest’s base camp. Photo: Matt Wade Ron Nissen survived the avalanche at Everest’s base camp. Photo: Matt Wade
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    Ron Nissen survived the avalanche at Everest’s base camp. Photo: Matt Wade

    Ron Nissen survived the avalanche at Everest’s base camp. Photo: Matt Wade

    Nepal earthquake: How to donateNepal earthquake: shock turns to angerQuake: Riots break out in KathmanduLandslide buries trekking village, leaving 250 missingHundreds waiting to cremate the dead as the toll rises

    Kathmandu: Many Australians had narrow escapes during the Nepal earthquake but few were luckier than Ron Nissen.

    The 70-year-old Queenslander, from Cooroy on the Sunshine Coast, was at Everest base camp, having just returned from an attempt on the summit, when the quake triggered a deadly avalanche.

    “We were sitting in the dining tent talking when we felt the earthquake start, we all rushed out . . . and there was a god-awful avalanche coming down,” he said.

    “I dropped to the ground where I was standing and the avalanche just roared over the top of us. It was just the scariest thing.”

    Snow, rocks and other debris flew past Mr Nissen at tremendous speed. “It was like lying next to a railway line with a freight train going past your head two inches away.”

    Mr Nissen was covered in “about a foot of snow” but had nothing more than a few cuts and bruises.

    Not everyone was so fortunate – the climbing team’s American doctor suffered critical injuries and died that night. At least 19 people were killed by the avalanche at Everest base camp including Australian climber Renu Fotedar.

    “There was absolute devastation, everything was gone,” Mr Nissen said.

    He and a few survivors from his climbing team had to scavenge through the snow for warm clothing and strong footwear. The group then walked for two hours to the closest village, Gorak Shep, where they found shelter. “It was a hell of an Anzac Day,” Mr Nissen said.

    Three days later, Mr Nissen had another stroke of luck when he was able to get a seat on a helicopter back to Kathmandu. But the semi-retired engineer, said he left about $20,000 worth of climbing equipment buried in the snow.

    Some Australians have been unable to get transport back to the Nepalese capital from remote Himalayan trekking areas. The Australian government is now aware of over 1400 Australians who were in Nepal at the time of the earthquake. Of those about 30 are still unaccounted for, although some of those may have left Nepal without telling the Australian embassy.

    More than 100 Australians are expected to be airlifted out of Kathmandu later today on Australian military aircraft. Two RAAF C-17 heavy transport aircraft are due to deliver relief supplies to Kathmandu and then evacuate the stranded Australians.  Priority will be given to vulnerable people, especially those with injuries. Kathmandu airport has been heavily congested since the earthquake but many Australians have been able to leave on commercial flights.

    About 80 Australians have been staying in tents in the embassy grounds since the earthquake hit.

  • Twilight’s Kristen Stewart on Clouds of Sils Maria and being ‘insanely sensitive’

    Role reversal: Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria. Photo: Supplied More on Clouds of Sils MariaMovie session timesFull movies coverage
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    Kristen Stewart started auditioning for movies when she was nine, but she has never looked anything but uncomfortable in her daily role as a star. Right now, surrounded by journalists in Cannes, she is faintly grouchy and very twitchy, as if she would like to wriggle out of her skin and leave it for us to pick over while she slithers off under the nearest door.

    And who can blame her?  When she won the role as Bella Swan in the first Twilight film, she says everyone expected it to be a small film for genre fans  In the end, the four films in the franchise grossed $US2 billion. In 2011, Forbes magazine calculated that for every dollar Stewart was paid, she brought in more than $US55 – a heavy financial responsibility at the age of 21. Meanwhile, paparazzi monitored every move she made with Robert Pattinson, the vampire lover who also became her real-life boyfriend.

    In her new film Clouds of Sils Maria, Stewart plays the personal assistant to a famous actress; one of her innumerable tasks is to minesweep public places for paparazzi. Thus the first Cannes screening ripples with laughter when Stewart scouts Zurich railway station, pronouncing it clean by saying, “The cockroaches must have taken a later train”. She laughs about it herself. “It was a lot of fun to be the one to say that,” she says. “It wasn’t a statement about anything to do with my life, but I was just like the perfect person to say those words. You know what I mean? Because I obviously have a lot of experience with that.”

    Of course, the fact the Twilight stars were embroiled in real life was a story made in tabloid heaven. Two years after they split up for the second and final time, it’s still running:  Stewart’s supposed negative opinion of Pattinson’s current girlfriend FKA Twigs is a regular headliner.  Her own romantic status is unconfirmed, but rumours swirl about her relationship with Alicia Cargile​, who – ironically enough, given the character Stewart plays in her new film – is her own former personal assistant. So far, the only real evidence is some pap-snapped hand-holding and somebody’s observation – possibly erroneous – that they have matching tattoos. The idea that Stewart’s real life is once again echoing her life on screen, however: that has to be good for a story.

    In every other respect, though, Clouds of Sils Maria is about as far from the Twilight franchise as anyone can imagine. Written and directed by French auteur Olivier Assayas​, it stars Juliette Binoche as Maria Enders, a venerated actress who, against her own immediate inclinations, has agreed to star in the play that made her name more than two decades earlier. Back then, she played the role of a brash young woman who seduces, then abandons, her much older female boss.

    This time around, she will play the boss’s part while a new star from a superhero franchise (Chloe Moretz) will replace her as the young temptress. The prospect makes her feel old, while watching those superhero movies makes her feel artistically irrelevant. The greater focus, however, is on her devoted assistant Valentine – played with marvellous restraint by Stewart – whose own insecurities are buried under endless work; she spends her life with a phone to her ear.

    Stewart likes the way Assayas has nailed details she recognises of celebrity life. So are actors really so fragile? She thinks so; it comes with the creative territory. “Most people aren’t born with this impulse to write or, like, make shit out of clay or with this impulse to do performances,” she says.  “Some people are just happy within their lives having families, having work:  you know, that’s like satisfying for them. So I think that unique thing definitely, commonly goes along with having something to protect, because you are different and a little weird. I think I am definitely insanely sensitive. Just ridiculously.”

    Even so, she has managed to tough out the Twilight years, sliding with apparent ease into a spread of independent films and another fairytale blockbuster franchise, Snow White and the Huntsman.

    “I think the reason I don’t get swallowed up by the Hollywood machine is that I really like to think,” she says. “And I really like to make movies; I just really want the experience of it. Most actors – not good ones – don’t do things for the experience of it; they are just really product-oriented. As is the business, which is why when things are good they stick out.”

    Her theory on celebrity culture is that it serves stars up in much the same way that Hollywood films package stories. “They’re all easily consumable and fun.”

    That doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to do Hollywood films, however. “I still like big American big-budget movies – that’s my foundation, that’s what I grew up on. I don’t want to be ‘oh, I only do artsy movies now’. And also within the whole packaged thing, it is possible to make really good movies.”

    Stewart is also keen to direct her own films. “I have never been comfortable saying that. I have worked with too many amazing people to comfortably say that. But it’s never going to happen unless I start thinking about it now, so I’m going to start dinking around and making shorts.”

    One day, she says, she would love to be back in Cannes with a film of her own. She may find stardom uncomfortable, but Kristen Stewart knows exactly what she wants.

    Clouds of Sils Maria opens in cinemas on May 7. 

    Life after Twilight

    “I didn’t make a movie for a two years because I didn’t have one that I liked,” says Kristen Stewart.

    “That was not a plan. I was just like dying. I was like ‘where is it, I can’t find it?’ Sometimes you can read a script and it can be fantastic, but that doesn’t mean that it’s in you to play it. Even if you’re right for the part, you fit the description, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s in you.”

    After Twilight, Stewart played Mary-Lou in Walter Salles’ adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road;  a guard at Guantanamo Bay in Camp X-Ray; and Julianne Moore’s daughter in the Oscar-winning drama about Alzheimer’s, Still Alice. Forthcoming projects include films – so far without titles – with Woody Allen and with Meek’s Cutoff director Kelly Reichardt​. She is currently filming a drama set in the Iraq war directed by Brokeback Mountain’s Ang Lee. Just announced is a forthcoming retelling of the story of Bonnie Prince Charles, with Stewart playing Flora MacDonald.

  • Trainer Peter Snowden hoping dream start to family operation continues

    Ready for more: Gypsy Diamond will be chasing further success for training duo Peter and Paul Snowden in the Wagga Cup. Photo: Anthony Johnson Ready for more: Gypsy Diamond will be chasing further success for training duo Peter and Paul Snowden in the Wagga Cup. Photo: Anthony Johnson
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    Ready for more: Gypsy Diamond will be chasing further success for training duo Peter and Paul Snowden in the Wagga Cup. Photo: Anthony Johnson

    Ready for more: Gypsy Diamond will be chasing further success for training duo Peter and Paul Snowden in the Wagga Cup. Photo: Anthony Johnson

    Peter and Paul Snowden’s first year of training could not have gone much better but there is still some work to do for the training partnership.

    A year ago Peter Snowden finished his time at Darley with a winning treble at Hawkesbury, including Aerobatics in the Darley Crown, and became a public trainer out of Randwick with his son Paul.

    Even the quietly spoken Snowden has been amazed with the results. The winners tally stands at 77 for the Snowdens, with three group 1 victories, which have created stallion careers for Shooting To Win and Pride Of Dubai.

    “You could not have asked for a better start and I didn’t think it would go this well,” Snowden said. “We have had a bit of luck in group 1s and have been blessed with a few really nice horses. To see Shooting To Win be retired to Darley is great but we are looking for the next one because we are just starting.”

    The success of the Snowden stable has been across the board and in the next couple of days they will have favourites at Wagga Wagga and Adelaide, while the Hawkesbury meeting gives further opportunity for success.

    Gypsy Diamond, the last-start winner of the JRA Plate, heads to Friday’s Wagga Cup to attempt to fulfil owner Ron Finnemore’s desire to claim his home-town cup again and is the bookmakers’ top pick at $3.60.

    Snowden, a country boy himself, is as excited about that race as he is about Miracles Of Life starting favourite in the William Hill Classic at group 1 level at Morphettville on Saturday.

    “[Gypsy Diamond] is going really well and it’s a great time to go to Wagga with her because it will mean a lot for Ron to win that race,” Snowden said.

    “If you look at the form from the other day, Leebaz, which ran second, came out and franked it by winning a group 2 in Brisbane. She is going to get a good track down there and she will run a good race.”

    Snowden has horses going in all directions on the weekend and Miracles Of Life heads over to her old home-town to attempt to add another group 1 to her fairytale Blue Diamond win.

    Snowden has only had her for four starts for first-up wins in the Caulfield Sprint in the spring and Challenge Stakes this time in. She added a third in The Galaxy to her resume and Snowden thinks this group 1 will really suit her. He decided to give her on a seven-week break and tuned her up for the trip with a Randwick barrier trial win on April 13.

    “It is a nice race for her and the space between her races should work for. She is going very well at home and I think she is ready to handle the pressure of another group 1,” he said.

    Snowden will be back at Hawkesbury on Saturday, trying to add to his history in the Darley Crown – which he has won five times – with Rose Of Choice.

    “She usually goes good first-up and gets through soft ground, which is going to be important,” Snowden said. “Her owner [Keith Biggs] is coming over, and he will also hopefully be able to see Lucky Lago go round in the Hawkesbury Cup, where he is first emergency. We are tossing up whether to run another one of his, Proactive, in the Guineas or send him to Newcastle for a maiden.”

    Snowden will also have Hot Snitzel and Dothraki in the XXXX Gold Rush. Both are having their first start for the stable but with plenty of speed on, they could be suited.

    “We are still learning about them but they will get their chance in a race like that because there will be a lot of pressure,” he said.

    The ultimate racing guide with the latest information on fields, form, tips, market fluctuations and odds, available on mobile, tablet and desktop.

  • Bali 9 executions: Abbott government backflipped on AFP death penalty directive

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Justice Minister Michael Keenan. Photo: Alex EllinghausenBipartisanship breaks down over executionsBali nine executions were ‘more perfect’Analysis: Australia may have to ride out JokoNewspapers caught out by reprieveAFP to face grilling over Bali nine role
    Shanghai night field

    The Abbott government quietly scrapped an instruction to the Australian Federal Police last year requiring it to take Australia’s opposition to the death penalty into account when co-operating with overseas law enforcement agencies.

    In 2010, Labor’s then minister for home affairs, Brendan O’Connor, included Australia’s opposition to the death penalty in his official ministerial direction to the AFP.

    The 2010 ministerial direction said the minister expected the AFP to “take account of the government’s long-standing opposition to the application of the death penalty, in performing its international liaison functions”.

    This was the first time such an instruction had been included in a ministerial direction to the AFP.

    In May 2014, Justice Minister Michael Keenan issued a new ministerial direction that removed the instruction. The 2014 ministerial direction includes no reference to the death penalty.

    In a letter sent to Mr Keenan on Wednesday, opposition justice spokesman David Feeney said the instruction should be included in the ministerial direction as a “matter of urgency”.

    The omission “raises concerns that protecting Australians from the risk of being subject to the death penalty in a foreign jurisdiction is no longer to be considered a critical priority for the AFP,” Mr Feeney wrote.

    “In light of the the devastating loss of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran overnight, and the national outpouring of grief which has followed, it is more important than ever that … Australia’s political leaders do all we can to protect Australians from the threat of the death penalty, and to campaign for the global abolition of this cruel punishment.”

    Mr Feeney asked for clarification whether the omission was deliberate or an oversight.

    When Labor introduced the instruction in 2010, Philip Ruddock – who was attorney general at the time of the Bali nine arrests – said it was “very problematic” and could stop the AFP co-operating with Indonesian police to prevent potential terrorist attacks.

    The AFP also has a set of internal guidelines, developed in 2009 following the Bali nine arrests in Indonesia, titled AFP National Guideline on International Police-to-Police Assistance in Death Penalty Situations. The guidelines require the AFP to consider “the degree of risk to the person in providing the information, including the likelihood the death penalty will be imposed” when co-operating with overseas agencies.

    Mr Keenan on Thursday accused Labor of playing politics with the deaths of two men and said the party was creating confusion by referring to the high-level ministerial direction rather than the AFP’s internal guidelines.

    “I might say that I’m pretty outraged and offended that the Labor Party would use the tragedy of two Australians being executed to make what is an incredibly cheap and invalid point,” he said. “I think they should take a long hard look at themselves if they think this is the sort of time to be politicking in a way that is completely inaccurate. The [AFP] guidelines are the same as when they were this in office and applied in the same way by this government.”

    Speaking after the execution of drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that she believed the AFP’s guidelines relating to the death penalty were sufficient.

    The AFP is set to break its silence on its role in delivering Chan and Sukumaran to Indonesian authorities in 2005 after previously declining to comment in detail because the mens’ case was being heard before the courts.

    The AFP has said it will hold a press conference in coming days while independent senator Nick Xenophon has said he will pursue the matter with the AFP at upcoming Senate hearings.

    Senator Xenophon said the removal of any mention of the death penalty from the ministerial directive was “disturbing”.

    It – and the AFP’s role in Chan and Sukumaran’s arrests – should be examined urgently by the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, he said.

    “There are legitimate questions to be asked about whether Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan would be alive if not for the actions of the AFP,” he said.Australian Politics – Fairfax